Some leaders in the massage field are taking steps to try and ensure that massage becomes a greater part of the U.S. health care system, as the implementation date of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes closer. A section of the ACA, which goes into effect in 2014, prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against health care providers—including those licensed as complementary health care providers—relative to their coverage and participation in health plans.A group of Washington state massage therapists has written a document titled “Evidence-Informed Massage Therapy is an Integral Component in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits.”
The document summarizes “the high-quality evidence for [massage therapy’s] effectiveness in treating medical conditions and populations” pertaining to the three (out of 10) Essential Health Benefits described in the ACA.
The authors are Marissa Brooks, L.M.P., Michael Hamm, L.M.P., Benjamin Erkan, Diana L. Thompson, L.M.P., and Kenneth Pfaff, H.F.W.L., H.P.C.U.H.G.S.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) supports the integration of MT into state-regulated insurance plans, both in its definitions of health care practitioners, and in its definition of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs),” the authors wrote, adding that two sections in the ACA provide for massage therapists to provide care: “Section 2706: Non-discrimination with respect to licensed or certified providers acting within their scope [and] Section 3502: Establishing community health teams that include CAM practitioners … ” The authors also noted that of the 10 EHBs specified in the ACA, massage therapy “has shown substantial benefit in three primary categories: 5. Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment”; 7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices”; and 9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.”
The documents reviewers include Ruth Werner, the current president of the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). Thompson is MTF past president. Tracy Walton, L.M.T., and Albert Moraska, Ph.D., reviewed the document as well. The document was funded by the American Massage Therapy Association’s Washington chapter.
—Karen Menehan, Editor in Chief